Manila, 18 September 2019 – “The Philippines and Turkey are on track towards an even closer friendship, bolstered by the various levels of engagement between our Governments and our peoples.”
This was how the speakers described the current state of Philippines-Turkey relations during the Mabini Dialogue on “The Philippines and Turkey: 70 Years and Beyond,” held on 17 September 2019 at the Diamond Hotel, Manila.
Philippine-Turkish relations have seen a significant growth in a wide range of areas in recent years, most notably in the fields of defense, trade and investment, development cooperation, and people-to-people linkages in tourism, culture, and education. Turkey also continues to support the efforts of the Philippine government in the peace process in Mindanao.
Co-organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Service Institute, and the Embassy of Turkey in Manila, the special event was held in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Turkey.
The Dialogue featured visiting Turkish Ambassador (ret.) Numan Hazar as keynote speaker. Former Philippine Ambassador to Turkey Maria Rowena M. Sanchez and Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta, Professor Emeritus at De La Salle University and former Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, joined the panel as discussants.
Ambassador Hazar presented a historical overview of Turkey’s foreign policy trends and thrusts, emphasizing that the country has always adapted its foreign policy to changes in the international arena, yet it is firmly committed to its democratic and humanitarian principles.
He shared that Turkey’s foreign policy not only adapts to its dynamic relations with its neighboring countries, but also beyond its region into Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific.
Turkey’s foreign policy continues to be guided by the vision of “Peace at Home, Peace in the World,” as set out by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Ambassador Sanchez, in turn, shared recent developments in Philippines-Turkey relations, highlighting political, socio-cultural, and economic cooperation.
Such developments have materialized as high-level visits, joint action agendas, and signed agreements between the two parties.
Additionally, business missions are consistently held on both sides to reach the goal of $1 billion bilateral trade by 2020.
She also cited Turkey’s active role in the Mindanao Peace Process and in providing development aid through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).
Meanwhile, growth in people-to-people linkages in tourism, culture, and education is facilitated by scholarships, exchange programs, and direct flight access between the Philippines and Turkey.
Amb. Sanchez emphasized that awareness amongst Filipino and Turkish peoples of each other’s countries is crucial to the bilateral relationship.
Dr. Villacorta discussed the role of Turkey’s geostrategic position at the crossroads between Asia and Europe in its foreign policy, noting Turkey’s flexibility and innovativeness in responding to changing realities at home and abroad.
He highlighted Turkey’s “Asia Anew” foreign policy initiative launched in August 2019, which puts emphasis on Turkey’s sectoral dialogue partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Turkey became an ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partner during the Philippines’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017.
Members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of government agencies, think tanks and the academe attended the Dialogue.
The Mabini Dialogue Series of the Foreign Service Institute is a regular discussion forum on national, regional, and global issues that have political, economic, and socio-cultural impact on the Philippines.
The lecture is one of the activities marking the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Turkey.